#Blogtober16 Day 26: My Top Five All Time Favourite Songs

There’s a funny thing, isn’t there about music? How hearing a particular song can take you back to a particular time and place. You don’t always realise it, either, until you hear Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody and are transported back to your fifth birthday party in 1988. Or is that just me?


Anyway, here are my top five all time favourite songs:

  1. Ed Sheeran,Thinking Out Loud – Something of a cliché, but we had this as our first dance at our wedding. To be fair the lyrics are highly appropriate.

2. Imagine Dragons,On Top Of The World – This song never fails to lift my spirits. I used to listen to it every morning on the way to work to psych myself up for the day when I was feeling stressed.

3. MAGIC!, Rude – This song was playing on the radio as we got in the car to go to the beach, where, unbeknown to me, hubby was about to propose. I like to think of it as a sign!

4. Brooke Fraser, Something in the Water – I love this little ditty. We first heard it on music television when on holiday in Turkey around five years ago. It makes me think of sunshine and happiness.

5. Pachelbel, Canon in D – Around a year before hubby even proposed, a string quartet came into school and played in assembly to encourage the children to take up music lessons. They played this tune and I was moved almost to tears. I knew that this would be the song I’d walk down the aisle to my future-hubby-but-not-even-fiance-yet on our wedding day. We booked the very same quartet to play at the church ceremony and then afterwards at the reception. So many of our guests said how great the quartet were – we specially requested modern hits to be played, so everyone at the reception was playing ‘name that tune’!

What are your favourite ever songs? What did you have as your first dance song?


#Blogtober16 Day 25: The Super Power I’d Most Like to Have

Like most new parents, I think the super power I’d most like to have is super speed. Little M has just turned five months old and to be quite honest, I’m getting a bit fed up with living in a tip! My living room has descended into a mess of muslins, toys, breast milk bottles and microwave sterilisation bags…


I love spending time with Little M and cleaning is at the bottom of my priorities list but it would be nice to not have to apologise about the mess every time we have a visitor! I’d love to be able to zoom around the house during one of M’s naps and have the whole place sparkling in a matter of minutes.

It would also help greatly with Little M’s bedtime routine if dinner could be ready when hubby got home from work. At the moment, I end up chopping vegetables during M’s morning nap in the hope that it may somehow come together at some point before the end of the working day. How amazing would it be to have dinner made in a jiffy and ready to eat when hubby came in the door? Perhaps I need to get my slow cooker in action instead, as clearly super powers like this aren’t going to come my way any time soon!

Super speed would help with blog admin, too. I’m fortunate that I’m already a pretty speedy typist. One of my party tricks as a teacher would be to type on my laptop connected to the whiteboard whilst looking at and talking to the class at the same time. It never failed to amaze – ten year olds are easily pleased! However, it would be great if all of the admin around writing a blog post could be done at lightning speed!

Most of all, I think super speed would just remove a lot of the stress from my life – the stress of not having enough hours in the day, and provide me with more time to have fun with hubby and Little M.

Which super power would you most like to have?


#Blogtober16 Day 24: Which Disney character can I most identify with?

I think the Disney character that I can most identify with has to be Princess Anna of Frozen fame.


Clearly I am not a princess, but we do share a number of common personality traits. Anna is a very determined individual; I like to think that I share some of that determination.

Unfortunately, much like Anna, I have a habit of not always thinking before I speak. Words tend to just fall out of my mouth before I can stop them. I don’t mean to be rude but sometimes things I say can be interpreted in a completely different way to my intention. This can make things a bit awkward!

I also share Anna’s insecurities as she believed that Elsa’s self-imposed exile from her was as a result of something she’d done, which is not the case at all. Too frequently I attribute other people’s bad behaviour towards me as a consequence of my personality. This can’t always be the case, especially when it concerns rude strangers!!

Sadly, like Anna, I too have quickly become engaged to a man who turned out to be a complete arse, before finding my Mr Right. I’m sure I’m not the only woman who can say that though!

My Petit Canard

#Blogtober16 Day 23: My Favourite Time of Year – September

I was talking to my husband about this post this morning, and he immediately said that my favourite time of year is September. He’s right in a way. Although, as a teacher, I’m predisposed to love the end of July. The time when the school year comes to an end and the summer holidays stretch out before you with such sweet promise of having an actual life. You’ll know what I mean by this if you’re a teacher!

But really, he’s right. I do love September. You see, I’m a bit of a misery guts if the temperature goes much above 23ºC. I much prefer it being a bit cooler and needing to wear a cardigan or jacket. I absolutely LOVE wearing boots. So September suits me pretty well as the weather starts too cool a little, but it’s still fairly dry and the evenings are still reasonably light.

Hubby and I also have our birthdays in September. I think we all feel just a little bit special in our birthday month, don’t we? We can treat each other, eat out in nice places and feel justified in spending a little bit of extra money. In years gone by we have gone away for two consecutive weekends (hubby and I were born exactly one week apart) or had a week away during October half term, but that hasn’t felt like an option this year.

We did have a lovely date night, though, at a local pub and arranged for a babysitter for Little M. Fortunately, we have a lovely friend who is a paediatric nurse. I feel comfortable leaving M with her! After all, she is just about qualified!

Finally, in September last year, we discovered that we were expecting Little M and were going to be parents! It couldn’t really have happened in a better month!

What’s your favourite time of year?


#Blogtober16 Day 22: My Greatest Accomplishment

Before I became a parent, I would have described my biggest accomplishment as buying my first house, or passing my driving test. But now, of course, my greatest accomplishment by far is being a mother to Little M.

I struggled for several weeks after her birth – I still don’t actually think about it as a birth; I didn’t give birth. She was pulled from my womb by a stranger who was chatting to other staff about his timetable for the day. Perhaps this is why I haven’t written about Little M’s birth story.

I always thought I’d write about the excitement of the first surges; my waters breaking; the feeling as she was lifted from the water (because of course I was going to have a water birth) and placed on my chest. There was none of that. Just a sterile room full of people I’d never met before that day (excepting hubby, of course).

Now, I’ve come to terms with it (as much as I can), as I know that Little M won’t care how she came into the world. The years of motherhood to come will be far more significant to her than that morning in late May. It’s not as though she’ll have any recollection of it, after all!

Parenting is the most intense thing I have ever experienced. It is unrelenting. When Little M is having a grizzly day it can feel as though time has suddenly slowed down! Even the good days, when Little M has slept through, it can still be hard work simply because it never stops.

Maybe this is because, despite M sleeping though, I don’t get more than six hours sleep a night due to the fact that I’m still expressing, and my boobs won’t allow me to sleep much beyond that!

I’m really proud of the fact that I’m still exclusively expressing and Little M has only ever consumed my breast milk. Yes, It’s hard work, but it’s totally worth it as she is thriving. I know I’ve said before that I’d like to get to six months, but there are so many health benefits to breast milk that I’d like to keep expressing until Little M is fully weaning. That really would be an accomplishment!

What is your greatest accomplishment?

My Petit Canard

#Blogtober16 Day 21: What am I afraid of?

I thought I could write about snakes, or spiders, or ghosts, or something else that I could be afraid of. But in actual fact, if I’m being honest, what I’m really afraid of is failure.

I don’t cope well with it at all. At school, I always did pretty well without trying. I don’t mean to sound big-headed; in reality I was a lazy learner and relied on my good memory and listening skills. I hadn’t had a taste of failure until I tried taking A-level maths.


I’m pretty good at maths, in fact I’d go so far as to say I love maths education. I’m even a fully qualified Primary Mathematics Specialist Teacher (or at least I was before I ditched full time teaching to do supply and have a life). But my word, A-level mechanics is like a different language. Actually, I think it really is a different language! I really struggled in the first few weeks. Being a good student and terrified that I might actually fail something, I approached my teacher just before the end of the first half term.

This is how it went:

Me: Excuse me, I was just wondering if there’s anything I can read or look at or do to help me with mechanics, because I’m really struggling.

Teacher (laughing): Well, if you think this is hard, just wait until the test I’m giving you text week!

End of conversation.

Needless to say, I scored 6% on that test and my A-level maths experience didn’t really improve much from there. Now that I’m a teacher myself, I can look back and feel absolutely appalled with how that teacher dealt with me and I now know that I was failed, rather than being a failure.

Obviously I have failed in other areas since then (my driving test on more than one occasion, but we won’t talk about that and I maintain that it made me a better driver in the end), and I still don’t enjoy it, but I have at least learned to be more philosophical about it!

What are you afraid of?


5 Super Cool Things About Norwich

I have lived in Norwich since I was around seven years old. I briefly moved away to Kent to go to university but returned once I had graduated and can honestly say that I love living here. I have moved around to different areas but have always stayed within a twenty minute drive of the city centre. At the moment, we live just ten minutes outside the centre, which is perfect for us. Here are five reasons why Norwich is a super cool place to live…

  1. Norwich is less than an hour away from a beach. And not only that, a choice of lovely beaches. Some of my favourites are Sheringham, Sea Palling, Wells-next-the-sea and Winterton, where hubby proposed.
  2. Because it’s not really a comfortable commute into London (approximately 1hr 50mins by train), Norwich is affordable. Our house is twice the size of our friends’ in Cambridge, for about two thirds of the price.
  3. The Norfolk Broads on its doorstep. Whether it’s hiring a boat for a day or having a drink at a pub on the water, it’s lovely to feel so close to nature.
  4. Norwich is really good for shopping. It has two shopping centres, a thriving high street and a lovely market, which has been there since the 11th century (although it has been modernised a bit since then). Norwich also has a network of historic lanes full of independent shops and cafés.
  5. The architecture. There’s lots to see in Norwich, just when you’re wandering around. There’s a castle, two cathedrals, and countless churches (at one time there was a pub for every day of the year and a church for every Sunday), plus modern architecture in the form of the Forum, which houses the central library and the BBC.

What’s your favourite thing about where you live?


Meet the Parents – Advice for New Mummies and Daddies from Country Heart & Home

Welcome back to my blog series, Meet the Parents, where we hear advice from those who’ve been there and got the t-shirt! This week it’s the turn of Debbie who blogs at Country Heart and Home. 

Tell me a bit about you, your blog and your family.

I am a stay at home mum of 6 who met, married and had her first child within a year of meeting her soul mate. 21 years later we are still together and happier than ever. Countryheartandhome blog is my way of keeping an online diary of our life with the children, the adventures – ups and downs we go through as a family. I love documenting our every day life and looking back and now that our first grandchild is born, I cant wait to share his journey with our life too.

What one essential item would you insist on putting in your hospital bag (for you)?

Snacks and a hand held fan. No one tells you that that breath of fresh air during contractions is almost a life saver! Also the thought of nothing to eat if you are there for countless hours is not a thrilling prospect – even if you have a packet of biscuits, a little something to nibble on keeps you going!
I had a whole bag of gluten free snacks with me in hospital – and I had a caesarean! They were still useful for the time between having the op and going home. 

Was there anything unexpected that happened during labour, that you think first-time mums should be prepared for?
I wasn’t prepared for the length of time it took for my first. Everyone knows that each baby is different but nothing prepared me for being in hospital from Friday to Monday with intermittent pains. I thought that once the pains started everything kind of flowed quickly but I was so wrong!

What would be your one essential product for a newborn that no new parent should live without?

Muslin cloths. They are invaluable for everything, from keeping baby sick off your clothes to swaddling baby in. Oh, and a decent pillow…you need to feel comfortable and sitting for extended periods in chairs feeding or holding baby can make you stiff quickly.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given before your first child was born?

Don’t take anyone’s advice to heart.

What’s the worst piece of advice you were given?

Let your baby cry or you’re making a rod for your own back! Nope sorry I hugely disagree!

Ugh my mother says this all the time!!!

What would be your top tip for a first time parent-to-be?

Do what is best for you and your baby, learn to trust your instinct- and always pop a nappy underneath the one you’re changing – believe me you will understand what I mean when the first poohnami hits!!
Haha! We have a muslin on top of our changing mat, which helps in situations like this, too!

What’s the hardest thing about being a new parent?

The lack of sleep and not knowing when you’re  going to get a hot cup of coffee again… usually it’s when they move out!

What’s the best thing about being a new parent?
The unconditional love, that little glint when they look up at you and you know you are their whole world and vice versa. You soon realise you would do anything for this little bundle of love and woe be tide anyone who gets in your way!
Thanks, Debbie! You can find Debbie over on her blog, Twitter and Instagram.

#Blogtober16 Day 19: My Favourite Foods

Today’s Blogtober post is all about my favourite foods. The prompt required ten, but I simply couldn’t think of that many! I think being gluten free has limited some things for me. For example I used to love yorkshire puddings but just haven’t found a decent gluten free alternative. Except for the ones that we had at our wedding. The chef (Andy Parle, if you’re in the market for an incredible caterer) spent weeks perfecting the batter mix and boy, it showed! It was really important to me to have a 100% gluten free wedding day as I just wanted to have one day where I knew I could eat anything in the room. I loved not having to say, “oh, I can’t eat that,” which I seem to say on an almost daily basis!
So, here’s my list:
Padron peppers – delicious fried in a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with Maldon sea salt. Perfect as a starter or when you’re waiting for your main course to cook.
Roast pork – I think this is my favourite meat; definitely my top choice for roast dinner.
Gluten-free pork pies from Marks & Spencer. Probably the best gluten-free pork pies I’ve found and a must have addition to any picnic.
Marks & Spencer hot chocolate fudge pudding – gluten free; probably the best pudding I’ve ever tasted, and the fact that it is gluten-free is amazing as most delicious things seem to contain things I can’t eat. Must be served with vanilla ice cream, otherwise it’s just too rich!
Blueberries – probably my favourite fruits I eat them all the time. I particularly like them on the cereal in the morning.
Toblerone – hubby has taken to buying me a giant one at Christmas and on birthdays. It’s the only time I have one so it’s a real treat!
Bananas – I eat at least one banana every day. They’re great for a quick energy boost if I’m in a situation where I can’t make my lunch until 3pm. Which seems to happen most days!
 What’s your favourite food?

#Blogtober16 Day 18: My Zodiac Sign

My birthday is at the end of September, making my star sign Libra. Lots of different websites have different ideas of what the main qualities of a Libran are. They tend to go on a bit, so I’ve tried to find a paragraph or two that summarises it fairly succinctly.

Below is a summary that I’ve edited from a longer passage on this website.

Libra in a Nutshell:

Libras are the diplomat of the zodiac. They are able to put themselves in others’ shoes and see things through another person’s point of view. They are the ones that always want to make things right and have balance and harmony in their life, their surroundings and the lives of the people close to them. They have captivating charm, elegant taste and they are easy to like due to their eager-to-please, easygoing nature. In return for a Libra’s amazing ability to be a good listener, sooth and calm people, they expect admiration.

Libras are very intelligent, they often hide this inside their easygoing exterior. They express their intelligence through creativity; most are involved in some sort of artistic or creative pursuit. Libras love variety and different situations. They welcome change. Libras love luxury. They will spend lots of money and surround themselves with beautiful things and they seem to be constantly fussing over their appearance. They love anything upscale and classy. Libras work hard to please others, this they do and others find them incredibly captivating.


Does it fit?

I’m not sure I agree with all of that! I do think that I am a good listener and I do try to see all sides of a situation, even if I don’t then agree with the other person’s point of view! I definitely agree with the part about wanting to put things right and have harmony in my life. I hate having conflict but I will create it rather than being treated as a pushover. If I don’t like how someone is treating me, I will let them know about it. I just don’t enjoy the way it makes me feel! If someone is treating me unfairly then I often (wrongly) assume that it’s because of something that I’ve done, rather than their problem.

I don’t agree that I’m easy-going! I am in some respects, as if there is a problem that can be solved in a practical sense than I don’t tend to worry about it and will look for and find a solution. However, I am very highly strung over little things and can often mull over something that’s upset me for days!

As for being a good listener and having the ability to soothe and calm, I do think that’s true. Friends have often said to me that they like to talk things through with me as I can help them to take a more measured approach to things. It’s just a shame that I can’t apply those skills to my own worries and anxieties!

I’m not convinced by the spending lots of money bit, as I love a bargain, but I do tend to take the ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ approach to purchases and would rather spend more on something of high quality that I know will look good and last, rather than a cheaper alternative.

A good example of this is our kitchen bin. I coveted a Simple Human Recycling bin but hubby was adamant that at over £100 (for a bin?!) it was too expensive, so we bought a single bin from John Lewis for thirty quid. Within two years said cheapo bin had gone all rusty round the edges, stank to high heaven and we constantly had a carrier bag of recycling kicking around the kitchen, making it look a tip. Needless to say, we now have the bin I originally wanted and it’s still like new a year on. We could have saved ourselves £30 there!

What’s your star sign? Does it fit your personality or do you think it’s all a load of old tosh? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments!